Ice skating is a great winter alternative to outdoor bikes and riding toys. Whether you're ice skating for sport, fun or fitness, finding the best ice skates for your needs is essential to ensure adequate foot support and comfort. Different types of ice skates work better for different types of activities. When determining how to buy ice skates, consider the different types of ice skates you need, your skate size, the ice skate boot, the ice skate blade and other accessories you may need to maintain your ice skates.
>> Consider which types of ice skates you need
As you determine how to buy ice skates, it is important to consider whether you need ice skates for hockey, figure skating, speed skating or recreational skating, as different types of skates are required for each activity. Some say that a good skater can excel with any kind of ice skate, but skates made specifically for your activities will enhance your performance.
Because the game of hockey requires a lot of fast movement and skill, it is important to look for skates that are durable and offer protective padding, as well as those that allow multi-directional movement. Hockey skates are typically curved in the front and in the back, and are durable enough to take hits from pucks and hockey sticks. Hockey skate boots typically have padding and support akin to running shoes that allow you similar movement options.
Another popular ice activity is figure skating. Because figure skaters perform much like ice acrobats, incorporating jumps and various turns, they require a specific type of ice skate. When determining how to buy ice skates for figure skating, look for ice skates that have boots with a small heel, and blades that extend about an inch past the back of the boot. Ice skate boots should also have toe picks on the front of the blades to allow for certain choreography.
Speed skates are different from any other type of skate because they are specifically designed to optimize your speed. If you are trying to decide which ice skates to buy for speed, consider flexible boots with blades that are flat and extend about 16 inches past the boot to promote forward moment and optimal speed.
If you skate just for the love of skating, you might consider simple recreational skates. Recreational skates resemble figure skates, with less padding and support. Some recreational skate boots are constructed of hard plastic rather than vinyl or leather to aid in ankle and foot support for casual skaters.
>> Determine your skate size
Ice skate sizes may be different than shoe sizes depending on the ice skate brands you choose. Therefore, when you are deciding how to buy ice skates, be sure to determine your foot size either by getting it measured professionally or by following a few tips to do it yourself at home.
To measure your foot, first gather a few supplies: two pieces of paper larger than your feet, a pen or pencil, tape, and a ruler or measuring tape. Once you have collected the supplies, follow the steps below to measure your feet accurately.
• Tape the paper onto a hard flat surface where you can easily stand.
• With your shoes off, place each foot on a piece of paper and trace around both of them.
• Draw a straight line, horizontally that touches the biggest toe of your foot. Then draw a straight line, horizontally, that touches the heel of your foot.
• Measure the length of your feet from line to line using a ruler or tape measure and write down the length in inches.
• Measure the width of your feet by measuring across the widest point of your foot. Write down your width to the nearest inch.
• Once you have accurately measured both feet, you will want to refer to the ice skate brands' sizing charts to figure out what size boot you need. Different charts may also have different sizes for men, women and children so keep that in mind when researching the ice skate sizes you need.
>> Consider the boot
As you consider which ice skates to buy, it is important to think about the fit and material of the boot.
To increase performance and prevent blistering, the ice skate boot should fit snugly when wearing thin socks. It is important to first consider your boot size. When worn, be sure that the heel of your foot does not slide up and down or lift out of the boot. When buying ice skates for kids, you may want the boot to be a little bigger so there is growing room, but not so much room that the child's foot easily lifts out of the boot when in use.
Material is also important to consider as different materials have more support and give than other materials. Softboot ice skates include skates made from leather or vinyl, whereas hard boot skates are made from plastic. Leather is one of the most durable materials available. However, leather will stretch a little with wear so be sure that when choosing leather boots, you get them a tad more snug to compensate for the wear. Also, leather may not be best for rough sports like hockey where a blade could penetrate the boot. A vinyl material is good when you are using the skates for recreational activities or as beginner skates. Plastic skates are typically used for kids and can be good for rough sports in which the boot may need a stronger material.
>> Consider the ice skate blade
There are many different types of ice skates to choose from and it is important to consider the blade or blades when determining how to buy ice skates, as the blade can play an important role in how the ice skates are used.
Double blade ice skates provide more balance when skating and are good starter skates for beginners and children. However, most professionals prefer a single blade ice skate to get the maximum benefits out of their skates. When determining how to buy ice skates, consider the toe pick which appears as jagged teeth at the front of the ice skate blade. Toe picks are generally used for figure skating or recreational skating that involves a lot of foot work and jumping. >> Consider ice skating accessories
After you have decided which ice skates to buy, consider other accessories you may need, such as a helmet or performance clothing. Many ice skaters purchase the following items with their ice skates:
• A helmet to protect their head
• Clothing to perform in or keep them warm while outdoors
• Shoe inserts for added comfort while skating
• Laces to add style or keep handy in case the others wear out
• Leather polish to keep leather boots looking their best
Ice skating can be a great way to stay fit and have fun outdoors during the winter months, when the weather prevents the use of other outdoor toys. With just a little bit of research, you're sure to find a pair of ice skates that fits your activity and your budget.